Supporting student learning,

Enhancing faculty development,

& Improving school culture

What We Do

Jackie and Keith consult with administrators and boards and offer workshops and presentations for teachers and parents on a range of topics drawn from more than a decade of research and practice in Montessori schools.

Workshops for Teachers

Most professional development workshops run as either half day (2.5 hours) or whole day (5.5 hours) sessions. All workshops can be customized based on the needs of individual audiences.

  • Following All the Children: Early Intervention and Montessori
  • Visual Thinking in Montessori Environments
  • Collaborative Child-Study: Research and Teamwork to Enhance Instruction
  • Changing the World from the Inside Out: Living Into Grace & Courtesy
  • Building and Sustaining Effective Partnerships with Parents

Presentations and Workshops for Parents

Parent education presentations last between one and two hours.

  • The "Big Work" of Montessori Education
  • Taking Montessori Home
  • Peace as Premise for Learning
  • Montessori and the Mainstream: A Century of Reform on the Margins
  • The Montessori Paradox: Unexpected Lessons for "Real" Schools

Services for Administrators and Boards

Helping your school implement ideas and systems that support student learning, enhance faculty development, and improve school culture.

  • Authentic Montessori Leadership for the "Untrained" Head
  • Strategic Planning for Small Schools
  • What Counts as Good Data? Sustaining Continuous Improvement

Workshops for Teachers

Following All the Children: Early Intervention and Montessori

As the number of students with learning difficulties rises, educators, including Montessorians, are confronted with the challenge of serving all children with intelligence, practical expertise, and compassion. This session explores the growing array of early intervention models aimed toward addressing diverse learning needs and developmental challenge. Known variously as Response to Intervention (RTI) and tiered instruction, these models aim to meet diverse learning needs prior to and, in many cases, in lieu of special education referral. The workshop reviews Montessori's natural and historic links with special education, and presents an approach specially designed to make the most of the unique properties of the prepared environment.This workshop is appropriate for teachers of children ages 3-15.

Visual Thinking in Montessori Environments

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is an inquiry-based method of developing critical thinking skills through discussions of works of art. Montessorians across the country use VTS to integrate arts learning, foster purposeful classroom discourse, and support the development of reason and imagination. This introductory workshop explores the VTS facilitation method along with applications specific to Montessori learning environments, including oral language development, exercises in Grace & Courtesy, Cosmic Education, and Going Out. The session features hands-on practice, usually in a local museum, and is appropriate for teachers of children age 3 - 15.

Collaborative Child-Study: Research and Teamwork to Enhance Instruction

What do Montessori teachers actually do when they follow the child? How can we harness the key skills of observation and deliberation to discover deeper, more meaningful insight into the the children we serve? And how can we share those discoveries with colleagues, parents, and the wider world in order better serve the child? This workshop outlines a process of developing and sustaining teacher research teams focused on children's learning, including both challenges and triumphs. The session will present systems for collecting data, constructing case studies, and structuring team meetings are all designed to put deep understanding of children and their learning at the center of school life. This workshop is appropriate for teachers of all age groups.

Changing the World from the Inside Out: Living Into Grace & Courtesy

Within the Montessori frame, Grace & Courtesy provide a through line of action and purpose. Beginning with the earliest exercises, young children learn the basics of offering a snack, making an introduction, walking around the room with care so as not to disturb others. As children mature, these simple actions evolve into intentional choices: how to join a group, resolve a disagreement, participate in a discussion, handle power and responsibility. But how do we as the adults in the community act on such choices? How do we model civility? How do we embody compassion? What aspects of our school cultures support or impede our own enactment of Montessori's vision of peace? This facilitated session begins with how your school currently approaches Grace & Courtesy, then develops tools for infusing both the idea and its enactment in every aspect of the community -- from public relations materials to progress reports and parent-teacher conferences, to systems for resolving disagreements within the faculty and staff and norms for welcoming visitors to the school. This workshop is appropriate for all levels.

Building and Sustaining Effective Partnerships with Parents

Every teacher knows that effective relationships with parents can make the difference between success and failure with students. In Montessori environments, those relationships can be especially delicate: we need parents to trust a system that often runs to counter to everything they know about childrearing and schooling. And we often expect them to demonstrate that trust with very little knowledge of what actually goes on in the classroom. This workshop focuses on establishing robust communication streams - verbal as well as written -- between parents and the classroom. Practical tools such as web-sites, digital photography, even e-mail can help keep a steady stream of information flowing out of your classroom and into students' homes. Likewise, strategies for structuring open houses, observation events, and parent-teacher (student) conferences help establish workable partnerships in which the teacher is the senior partner. This workshop is appropriate for all levels.

Workshops and Presentations for Parents

The "Big Work" of Montessori Education

"Work" is one of those Montessori words that can puzzle more than clarify. Teachers and students use it all the time, and the concept is central to Montessori learning theory: Work is what your child does at school. It's also what defines the larger endeavor of Montessori education. But what does your child's teacher really mean when she or he uses the term? How is "work" different from play, projects, exploration and other terms more commonly used to describe children's school activity? Why did Dr. Montessori deliberately select the term, and why is it's use important in the realization of Montessori's vision? This presentation addresses those questions, unpacking both the historical and practical importance of the concept.

Taking Montessori Home

The Prepared Environment (your child's classroom) is meticulously designed to serve the needs of children at very specific stages of development. Every detail has been considered, every object has a purpose, every interaction is reviewed in order to ensure conditions optimal for development. Our homes, by contrast, must serve the needs of all members of the household. While it is impossible to replicate the Prepared Environment at home, adjustments can be made that render home life and school life more seamless. This workshop explores practical ways to organize home environments so that they foster independence, concentration, language development, and social skills.

Peace as a Premise for Learning: Cosmic Education in Troubled Times

Maria Montessori spent much of her adult life both escaping from and responding to the horrors of Fascism, and her educational philosophy was shaped by her experiences in war-time Europe. By the 1930's, Montessori education had gained popularity in Italy, Spain, Germany and Austria, just as totalitarianism also was taking hold. The resulting turmoil, which the Montessori family experienced personally, is reflected in a passionate vision of education as the work of making peace. That vision is articulated in Dr. Montessori's peace lectures as well as in the program developed for elementary students, both developed during this period. This presentation examines both the vision and its enactment in Cosmic Education.

Montessori and the Mainstream: A Century of Reform on the Margins

This presentation offers an historical perspective on Montessori education's role in the American educational scene. Starting with the 1909 publication of Montessori's first book, The Montessori Method, we chronicle three major "waves" of American interest in Montessori along with the enduring impact Montessori's ideas have had on conventional schools in the United States.

Montessori Paradox: Unexpected Lessons for "Real" Schools

A great deal about Montessori education is counterintuitive for people who have attended conventional American schools. Very young children often work in silence while older students rely on peers for much of their learning. Teachers are trained to "follow the child" rather than transmit knowledge. Lessons are presented with meticulous precision, yet freedom is a central tenet of the approach. Likewise, critics have dismissed the system as both "rigid" and "unstructured," and perceptions of Montessori as religious or only for "special" persist among many observers. Yet, the very things that make Montessori seem "strange" offer powerful lessons for anyone interested in making schools more rigorous, humane, and effective.


Selected Publications

Selected Clients and Engagements

National & Regional Montessori Associations

  • National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector*
  • American Montessori Society
  • Association Montessori International-USA
  • International Montessori Council
  • Montessori Teachers Association of Delaware
  • New York City Montessori Network
  • Pacific Northwest Montessori Association

Montessori Charter Schools

  • Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School
  • Breakthrough Montessori, Washington, DC
  • Elm City Montessori Charter School, New Haven, CT
  • City Garden Montessori Charter School, St. Louis, MO
  • Fort Collins Montessori School, Fort Collins, CT
  • Mountain Village Charter School, Plymouth, NH
  • Rockbridge Montessori Charter School, Little Rock, AR

District Montessori Schools

  • Boston (Massachusetts) Public Schools
  • Millcreek Township School District, Millcreek, PA
  • Hartford (Connecticut) Public Schools
  • Faith North Montessori, Phoenix, AZ

Higher Education

  • Center for Teaching and Learning, Trinity College
  • Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University
  • Association of Colleges of Teacher Education

Museums and Non-Profits

  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Steppingstone Foundation
  • Visual Thinking Strategies

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Who We Are

Jacqueline Cossentino, Ed.D.

Jacqueline Cossentino, Ed.D. Co-Director

Jackie's Montessori career began as a parent, and quickly evolved into researcher and administrator, as well as university professor. An ethnographer by training, since 2001 she has drawn from her direct experience as head of an independent Montessori school and principal of a large, urban public Montessori school to produce an internationally recognized body of scholarship on Montessori education. A passionate teacher and dynamic speaker, Jackie has delivered keynote and featured addresses for the American Montessori Society, the Association Montessori Internationale, the Montessori Foundation, the New York Montessori Network, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as well as numerous schools and university settings. Her work on Montessori has appeared in both popular and academic journals, including Montessori Life, Tomorrow's Child, Public School Montessorian, American Journal of Education, Journal of Teacher Education, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Education Week, and Teachers College Record.

In addition to her Montessori work, Jackie's 24 years in education have included roles as a middle and high school English teacher, an elementary school principal, a professional developer for schools, districts, and museums, and a professor of educational leadership at the University of Maryland. She has developed and evaluated programs for the Museum of Fine Arts, The Kennedy Museum at Ohio University, Visual Understanding in Education, the Maryland State Department of Education, Prince George's County Public Schools, and the Capitol Region Education Council. She holds masters and doctoral degrees in education from Harvard University. Click here for a full curriculum vitae.

Contact Jackie

Keith Whitescarver, Ed.D.

Keith Whitescarver, Ed.D. Director

An educational historian by training, Keith has held faculty positions at the College of William & Mary, Ohio University, Wellesley College, and Lesley University. His recent research focuses on Montessori history and practice. His writings on Montessori education have appeared in Montessori International, Montessori Life, Teachers College Record, Tomorrow's Child, and Journal of Educational Controversy. Click here to see a selection of his writing. He currently serves on the American Montessori Society's Research Committee and Archives Committee. Prior to earning his doctorate from Harvard University, he served as a high school social studies teacher for ten years.

Contact Keith

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Contact Us

Keith Whitescarver & Jacqueline Cossentino

Call us (860) 394-4869 or Email Us

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